Cotroceni in the `30s, Bucharest
photo source: www.altblogromanesc.blogspot.com/2010/08/7-fotografii-rare-din-cotroceni
Is the Ideal City just an Artistic Thought?
Radu George Serafim
We are far from being able to formulate the attributes of an ideal city, although we often show our admiration, or even the astonishment, for the urban achievements of the Italian Renaissance or the multitude of expressions of the Spanish Baroque or Prague Baroque, for the stylistic unity of Budapest or for what the architect Constantine Joja called " Balkanic specific." The list of landmarks can also continue with Warsaw, with St. Petersburg if in such a succession we have not to comment on the contrasting aspects that have arisen over the years. In some cases, we can take into consideration the prestige of some artists involved in the building of some or other architectural objects; but there are very few cases in which their intervention targets the whole city - as it is the case of Brasil, where an urban architect, Lucio Costa, and an architect, Oscar Niemeyer, made it possible the `landing` on the plains of the South American jungle of a giant `plane` that has become the country's capital.
Such a project would be impossible for us. Bucharest, eclectic as it is, seems to be destined to collapse under its own chaotic development from the urban and architectural point of view. But the extremely precious "stylistic" harmonies (in Cotroceni, around Dacia Boulevard or in the Sosea neighborhoods) can easily be ascertained by experts if there is no consonance of stories regarding the occupants of the respective buildings in the past. To complete the picture, the occurrence of some horrible structures of concrete and the glass or of some claims of modernity destroyed the angle of the height regime ... they only contradict what we call the ''atmosphere'' or ''local color''. Please note that I did not recall anything of what we currently call infrastructure that is far away from the necessities of an urbanistic ideal. All this or maybe other motivations (the pride of buildings, for example) brought to discussion on several occasions the capital's move to Alba Iulia, Brasov or Targoviste, - abandoned projects for the "big changes" (culminating in the People's House - no other comments). As can be seen, there was not even the attempt to put a clearer artistic footprint on what, here, we would like to become the ideal city. I have heard that in countries such as Belgium or Luxembourg no one can build anything unless it receives a stylistically approval of what has crystallized as the 'local colour'.
Here, the building walls feature overnight kitch elements, graffiti, proving without a shadow of a doubt that "it can be worse." And as a proof, everywhere `manele` can be heard...
Born September 14, 1947, Bucharest. Writer, producer of TVR International editorial and editor of cultural programs. With a PHD in philosophy at the University of Bucharest, he has initiated numerous broadcast cycles in TVR, such as ”Confluences”, ”Interference”, ”The Lesson to Look”. Among the published volumes is the novel “How to Breathe Under Water”, ed. Evenimentul, Bucharest. He teached at several universities in Bucharest, such as the Academy for the Study of Civilizations and Religions, ”the Religion and Mass-media” course.